Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Facing Layoffs, Teachers Need to Advocate for Themselves

Like many states, New York is struggling with how to manage a bloated budget. Unfortunately, rather than trimming fat and implementing ways to spend wiser, education has become the target of severe cuts in state spending (my school in particular is currently forced to operate next year with a massive 17% cut in funding). Last year, states laid off 58,000 teachers nationwide, and projections for the 2011-2012 school year don't look any better.

Sadly, I have a personal connection to this. My sister-in-law, Amanda Wagner, is one of those teachers whose job will not be in the district budget for next year. Rather than be angry, she took the chance to share her insight via an editorial in The Buffalo News. Her overall message is a call to action; a plea for parents, students, teachers, and community members to take an interest in their schools. Too many see education as an almost invisible part of their community, and this can be dangerous as conditions slowly and quietly decline.

A few days after Amanda's editorial printed, someone posted a negative comment. Maybe this guy was just trolling, but I took the bait and we have been sparring back and forth. My goal isn't to make this person look foolish; I have a much deeper motivation.

I'm proud to be a teacher, and I truly believe that what we do on a daily basis makes a tremendous difference in the lives of our students. I have used the comment section of my sister-in-law's editorial to hopefully dispel some of the popular misconceptions of teachers. My hope is that immediately after reading my blog post, you will read her article and the comments. Think about what makes you valuable as an educator, and add your own comment. As professionals, we need to advocate for ourselves.

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